Michael J. Long is chairman, president and chief executive officer of Arrow Electronics, Inc., a publicly traded corporation with 18,700 employees and $23.8 billion in annual sales. Since he was named CEO in 2009, Arrow has completed over 40 strategic acquisitions that further expand its global components and computer systems businesses. In 2016, the company was named to Fortune magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” for the 17th consecutive year, topping the list for the fourth consecutive year in the “Wholesalers: Electronics and Office Equipment” category based on input from industry executives, directors and analysts.
Long returns to campus on April 22, 2017, to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement as part of the university’s Founders Day celebration.
The Midwest native, who grew up on a dairy farm in Indiana, first learned about leadership in the field.
“My grandfather was probably the person who gave me the best advice when we were throwing hay on a wagon. He said, ‘You know, son, every pair of hands is an equal pair of hands.’ And that is so true today, it was true then, and I think it will be true into the future.”
Long chose to come to UW-Whitewater because he wanted to expand his horizons in college.
“UW-Whitewater was a perfect fit for me for two reasons – a great business school and the opportunity to play football. I found the campus to be extremely active. It was an honor to represent the Warhawks on the field, and I earned an invaluable education in the meantime.”
But the transition from dairy farm to university life was challenging at first.
“Honestly, I thought life would be easy,” he said. “I was used to working hard on the farm, but I underestimated the challenges of balancing work, football and classes. That experience prepared me for the demands of being a CEO, and has led me to advocate for secondary education. It’s an invaluable experience that I hope more and more young people can take advantage of.”
Long returned to campus in 2013 to speak to a supply management class.
“I don’t make it back as often as I would like, but I’m amazed at how much it has grown over the past decades. The new stadium and student center are impressive, and you can see how the campus is evolving to meet the needs of both traditional and nontraditional students.”
In his own success on campus, Long cites the support of key faculty and staff.
“You know, the right mentors can make all the difference. There were so many great influences at Whitewater. In particular, I remember my math teacher, Clayton Droullard, taking a special interest in helping me succeed. And, as you might expect, Forrest Perkins stood out not only as a football coach, but as a role model and mentor. They both pushed me to do my best personally and academically.”
Long has been with Arrow Electronics since 1991, when Arrow merged with Schweber Electronics, the company he joined after graduating from UW-Whitewater in 1981 with a bachelor degree in business administration, and then working briefly at Allen Bradley.
He is active in the Young Presidents’ Organization, a global peer networking group. He serves on the Board of Directors of AmerisourceBergen and the Denver Zoo. He lives in Parker, Colorado, with his wife, Karen. The two have three sons and one daughter.
When he reflects on his time on campus and how it has made a difference in his life, Long cites the student-focus he experienced.
“I was the first person in my family to go to college. That meant a lot to me and my family, and UW-Whitewater pushed me to be my best.
“Whitewater always took pride in the education and placement of students. That’s really what it’s all about. It was a fantastic experience, and I’m humbled to be named a distinguished alumni for such a great university.”